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Paul D. Camp Community College opens

By Clyde Parker

OCT. 4, 1971

For the first time, today, Monday, Oct. 4, 1971, Paul D. Camp Community College is officially open for students and instruction. Last Friday, Bruce Baker, Dean of Student Services, commented. “It’s tremendous!  Nearly 400 students are signed-up to start classes on Monday; yesterday, 75 people braved severe weather, generated by Hurricane Ginger, and registered for classes.” 

In the middle of Friday’s hectic final day of registration, Baker happily reported that 18 of the 65 courses offered at the college had already been filled. “We’re going to have to extend registration into next week,” Baker noted. “Persons unable to register before opening day will be able to do so Monday through Friday of next week – during regular college hours.”

“Opening day!” Baker savored the words, as did Paul D. Camp president Dr. Perry R. Adams, when interviewed recently.

“Am I ready for opening day?,” Adams questioned a question put to him last week. “You can believe I’ve been ready for a long time. It’s the day I’ve been looking forward to for many, many months.”

Adams was appointed president of the College in June of 1970.

Earlier in the year, the following were appointed to serve on the College Board:  Dr. Gordon Birdsong, Roger W. Drake and Robert Sandidge — representing Franklin; William H. Barrett, Victor A. Bell and Howard O. Haverty— representing Isle of Wight County; Mrs. William M. Hoffler Jr. and Forrest S. Wommack — representing Suffolk; Calvin T. Davis and Mrs. T. O. Wyche — representing Nansemond County; and Mrs. Gilbert Francis, P. D. Vann, and Ben A. Williams Jr. –—representing Southampton County. Roger W. Drake, president and chairman of the Board of Franklin Equipment Co., was elected Chairman of the College Board.

Paul D. Camp administration and staff, for the opening, include Dr. Perry R. Adams, President; Leonard T. Parker, Dean of Administrative Services; Bruce A. Baker, Dean of Student Services; Victor B. Ficker, Dean of Instruction; Ann. N. Hobbs, Confidential Secretary; Katie Pope, Secretary to the Dean of Student Services; Marie Hornok, Bookstore Manager; Carolyn Turner, Secretary, Office of Financial and Administrative Services; Dorothy Grizzard, Secretary to the Dean of Instruction; and Kaye Raiford, Admissions Clerk. 

Paul D. Camp Community College serves Region 21 of the Virginia Community College system. Region 21 includes the cities of Suffolk and Franklin, and the counties of Nansemond, Isle of Wight and Southampton. 

After much discussion as to location of the new college within Region 21, a site in Franklin was chosen. The land, located adjacent to the new Franklin-Boykins Road, across from the Peanut Growers Cooperative Association building, was offered by Franklin officials. Owners Willie Camp Younts, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Ruth Camp Campbell, of Franklin – daughters of the late Paul D. Camp, said they would make that site available for the college without cost. The Franklin site would have significant infrastructure: water, sewer, and electrical connection, along with police and fire protection. Thus, all the foregoing considerations, combined, pointed to the obvious choice for the college’s location —in Franklin. 

Earlier in the year, very strong consideration was being given to place the college on a site in Isle of Wight County: the 90-acre Richard Rawls farm located on U. S. Route 58, about 2 miles east of Franklin. 

Even earlier, sites being promoted for the college location were a P. D. Pruden property on Route 460, 5 miles northwest of Suffolk in Nansemond County and a tract located 9 miles west of Suffolk on Route 58, near Holland, in Nansemond County. 

THE TIDEWATER NEWS – OCT. 11, 1971

An official dedication of the new Paul D. Camp Community College took place on Sunday, Oct. 10.    Among those on hand for that occasion, as shown left to right in the accompanying photograph, were Dr. Paul D. Camp, Jr.; Paul Douglas Camp Marks, Jr. (great-grandson of Paul D. Camp); Paul D. Camp III (grandson of Paul D. Camp) and his children, Paul D. Camp IV and Elizabeth Camp; Paul Douglas Camp Marks, Sr. (grandson of Paul D. Camp); and Dr. Perry R. Adams, president of the college.

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In 1979, Paul D. Camp Community College started offering classes in Suffolk; and, in 1995, the Suffolk campus, named for Suffolk inventor and industrialist Oliver K. Hobbs, was opened — on Kenyon Road. Hobbs donated the land. In the fall of 1993, the Paul D. Camp Community College, Smithfield Center, was opened. 

In 2002, a major addition to the Franklin campus was the completion and dedication of the Regional Workforce Development Center which was established to provide occupational training for hundreds of people in the region. At the Center, the College provides: specialized employee training services customized to employer specifications; pre-employment training programs; and other workforce development services – including space for employers to meet with or train their own employees. Secondarily, it provides a venue for various educational seminars, business conferences, and other community events. To assist with the development of the Center’s programming, earlier, in the latter part of 1998, Carolyn Crowder was named its director. Later, she was appointed as a vice president of the College, still heading-up the Center.

Presidents: Dr. Perry R. Adams, Dr. Johnnie E. Merritt, Dr. Michael B. McCall, Dr. Edwin L. Barnes, Dr. Jerome J. Friga, Dr. Douglas W. Boyce, Dr. Paul W. Conco, Dr. William C. Aiken (interim), Dr. Daniel W. Lufkin and Dr. Corey L. McCray (interim). 

Currently, the leadership team at Paul D. Camp Community College (now, also referred to as “Camp Community College”) include:  Dr. Corey McCray, interim president; Dr. Tara Atkins-Brady, vice president of Academic and Student Development; Dr. Toni Johnson, interim director of Workforce Development; Dr. Justin Oliver, dean of Academic Programs and athletic director; Philip Bradshaw, operations manager; and Jeff Ziegler, director of Institutional Advancement. Dr. Toni Johnson is also director of the Smithfield Center and Dr. Justin Oliver is director of the Oliver K. Hobbs Campus in Suffolk.

2021-2022 Board members:  Charles G. Sanders, Chairman, Suffolk; Sarah C. Sugars, chairman elect, Suffolk; Allard A. Allston III, Drewryville; Dr. Richard R. Antcliff, Smithfield; Teresa B. Beale, Franklin; Marcus D. Gersbach, Suffolk; Roderick W. Hallum, Smithfield; Witt Harper, Franklin; Dr. Davida M. Harrell-Williams, Suffolk; Norma Jones, Branchville; Dr. Gwendolyn P. Shannon, Franklin; James R. Strozier, Franklin / Southampton; Benjamin A. Vaughan, Windsor; and Dr. Corey L. McCray, secretary to the Board.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net.